Beyond the warnings

The existential lemmings on whose wings we rest tumble coughing now out of the otherwise silent mines. That immovable force – we can never produce enough energy otherwise – having been eclipsed, the spewing and disappearances of species continue. The rout of rainforest canopy and wetlands picks up speed. The kids have noticed. The storms have worsened and the strategies to counter rising waters seem more absurd. The right-wing politicians have dusted off the petro-industry playbooks and memorized every formation; the left-side politicians are demanding still too much of confused citizens – move, exercise, drive less, pay more. Still, the little birds fly into the caves and we ride their feathers into the harden, cracked walls. They look out not for us, so who will?

Third parties to save us — insurance companies, geo-engineering, aliens — all of the same dubious provenance. We strengthen ourselves into a learned weakness, a precarious primordial of recent vintage. That con we have worked on ourselves has worked, and to call it out is to ask for more butter on the popcorn after the movie has begun. We are up the tree. The suspensions are disbelieved. Are we just watching and waiting? Does a watched tide rise?

The con – an abuse of confidence. To persuade by deception, cajolery. Flimflam, to use a technical term. We have successfully used it on ourselves, against ourselves, celebrated the winnings and scorned the sad losers who were taken. Who continue to be played. Who continue to be us.

There’s an element of art, of savvy, of dereliction, of due course, of just desserts, of merit! These all leave out something essential: the self-foist of the entire scam. Simultaneously reaping the rewards and the whirlwind will test our major faculties and they drown our lesser ones, not to mention facilities of all kinds along the coasts. Houston, (and not only) you have a problem. This is not, strictly speaking, the kind of conflicting ideas we intended to grapple with, and proof that even our depraved intentions can be misaimed and still solidly struck.

So here, now. New generations of impatient voting age beings, empowered unto political consciousness in less-than-snowy winter scenes; small generations of very rich old-timers, still mostly in charge of the levers and very reluctant to cede any power, electrical or otherwise; large-generations of status-Aquarians, just first-world enough to ignore the consequences, afford the luxuries sponsored by scaremongering and similar fictions about themselves and a way of life that is itself choking and smoking as it runs on fumes. The power of disbelief striking both ways against hearts closed and minds distracted, the practiced fear infects everything with the same virus of futility.

But there has never been such an as if. Surrounded by impossibility, we insist on the one option we don’t have– to do nothing. Afraid of words – we say little. Worried over violence, we arm everyone. Silence and furrowed brows however have very little effect on temperature, air quality or the lack of bees. The Zombie Lie as an actual tall tale about the living dead has been particularly devious. Almost like the promise behind ‘streets of gold,’ only more guttural in its vicarious appeal. A simple, harmless fiction, availed of increasingly bad writing and unnecessary plot devices, taking the place of minimal engagement with a far more-frightening reality. An obvious choice, maybe. Blunt, obtuse, with so many abstracted until-they-aren’t dimensions, there are a million ways to continue to ignore, to contest even on the basis of spite, and even when that spite is self-directed.

Susceptible to self-loathing, that’s where it happens. Start again. Unpack, separate and not the recycling. Investigate the fraud if you think it’s real, but be honest about what you find. Never was a corner that was not a part of a much larger room. If that’s where you, turn around.

Old Times There

Is New Orleans and the Mississippi Delta a microcosm of environmental catastrophe? If you are paid per word, it may be more remunerative to try to describe why it isn’t:

NASA_neworleansExtensive studies done after Katrina verified what lifelong residents of southeastern Louisiana already knew: Unless the rapidly disappearing wetlands are made healthy again, restoring the natural defense, New Orleans will soon lay naked against the sea (see satellite image, below).

So, how does one reengineer the entire Mississippi River delta—one of the largest in the world—on which New Orleans lies?

Three international engineering and design teams have reached a startling answer: leave the mouth of the Mississippi River to die. Let the badly failing wetlands there completely wither away, becoming open water, so that the upper parts of the delta closer to the city can be saved. The teams, winners of the Changing Course Design Competition, revealed their detailed plans on August 20. Graphics from each plan are below.

Scientists worldwide agree that the delta’s wetlands disintegrated because we humans built long levees—high, continuous ridges of earth covered by grass or rocks—along the entire length of the lower Mississippi River. The leveed river rims the southern boundary of New Orleans and continues another 40 serpentine miles until it reaches the gulf. The levees, erected almost exclusively by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, prevented regular floods from harming farms, industries and towns along the river’s course. However those floods also would have supplied the brackish marshes with massive quantities of silt and freshwater, which are necessary for their survival.

Good grief. Emphasis mine because they mean that so literally, when we throw around all kind of colorful euphemisms to describe and debate I guess after a while we return to original meanings again. What the miles of levees have wrought, let now engineering decisions and new diversion structures put asunder. Or let the delta die. May 1,000 new songs be written, though immaculate recordings and an army of busking crooners still won’t dull the pain of the [algal] bloom.

Via LGM.


Flooded Threads


This is a good example of why the green issue is so complex, viz our modern ways and means, and corrections to it so complicated.

An emergency procedure intended to prevent the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers from flooding several river towns appears to be working Tuesday, as river levels have fallen more than a foot. However, water levels are rising as far south as Memphis, Tenn., where heavy rainfall could contribute to a river crest of 48 feet next Tuesday.

Late Monday, the US Army Corps of Engineers blasted a two-mile hole in a Mississippi River levee to relieve water pressure that, at its height Monday night, stood at a record-breaking 61.72 feet in Cairo, Ill. The historic river town is located at the bottommost tip of Illinois, where the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers meet.

But that’s only part of it. Originally, before it was straightened at any many points and levees built to protect settlements, town and cities the alluvial plain of the Mississippi Delta was about 300 miles wide. As much as it was a pain and a danger, its regular flooding by the sediment-rich river produced extraordinarily fertile croplands throughout the Delta region – not to be confused with the Mississippi River Delta at the mouth of the river, which is different.

The delta regularly flooded, so we set about changing its course and building levees to protect people and property from the flooding. In an alluvial plain. I certainly do not wish any of these residents any harm or ill-will at this time of hardship. These are the ramifications of our own attempts to master the largest river system in North America. When we made it impossible for the river to periodically dump sediments onto the land through flooding, we made it possible for the river to carry the same same sediment out into the river delta, where it creates massive biological dead zones, aka hypoxia zones in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s weird and not much salve to see try to this in context of a longer time continuum. But as Fred said, we need more weird.